Screen use

How spending time in front of a screen affects your health

Spending several hours a day in front of a screen – working from home, playing with your mobile phone or enjoying a series on the television, can be harmful for your sight and also for your general state of health.

It is very likely that society is not really aware of all the hours people spend in front of a screen: working at home, in the office with a computer, playing with friends on line or with a video game console. Added to this is the continuous use of the mobile phone for interconnecting with people and spending hours on social media, or on a tablet for reading a good book or consulting a magazine. Today, screens accompany both young people and adults all day long. All of this has an irrevocable effect on eye and cognitive health and it can cause sleep disorders, back ache and obviously, vision problems.

One of the most widespread problems regarding this pairing (screens-health) is Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), derived from bad visual ergonomics. Its most usual symptoms are visual strain, headaches, dry or itchy eyes and even sore, red eyes. It can also cause blurry vision and muscular pain. Furthermore, too many hours in front of screens can derive in dry eye syndrome. A person blinks 18 times per minute, but when they are looking at a screen, they do it only half as many times. This is translated into dryness and visual strain. Also, currently people spend less time performing outdoor activities and more time inside and now in the summer, in rooms where the use of air conditioning predominates. All of this contributes to the fact that the eyes concentrate too much on a screen and therefore, as we mentioned above, there is less blinking: this weakens the action of the tear film, which must be healthy and whole, covering the surface of the eye. As a preventive step, in these cases, the use of artificial tears is recommended to refresh the eyes.

Finally, the ophthalmologist, Roberto Gallego-Pinazo, indicates that it has already been demonstrated that the popular blue light emitted by these electronic devices can alter sleep patterns and cause difficulty in falling asleep when they are used before going to bed. Likewise, spending too much time on a sedentary activity, such as playing a video game or watching television, can be a risk factor for obesity. That is to say, the use of screens does not only influence the condition of your eye health, but it also has repercussions on general conditions of health.

Learning to look after visual ergonomics

The incorrect use of new technologies, bad posture or the lifestyle itself is causing an increase in visual health problems. Many of these ailments, such as blurry vision or back ache, can be avoided by looking after visual ergonomics. Here are three key tips: 

1.- 20/20/20 rule. It is important to carry out eye exercises and apply the 20/20/20 rule: every 20 minutes, rest for 20 seconds looking at a distance of over 20 feet, or 6 metres. 

2.- Correct posture. It is important to remain upright in front of the computer with your back straight to ensure a good viewing angle.

3.- Distance and luminosity. The screen must be at a safe distance, at around 60-70 centimetres from the eyes and at their height, in order to not have to move your head up or down. The room must also have enough light. Bad lighting causes headaches and binocular vision. The light should not generate reflections or shadows on the screen.